There’s a lot to love about oatmeal. The popular breakfast food is made from hulled oat grains, and can be found in a number of varieties, including milled, rolled, and steel-cut. Health-wise, it offers a nutritious boost to any diet, with a high protein content and a big dose of dietary fiber. Oatmeal also contains lots of vitamin A, as well as iron, calcium, vitamin B-6, and magnesium. That it’s delicious too is just an added benefit
Of course, you may have already known that oatmeal is a good choice as part of a well-balanced diet. But is oatmeal good for dogs, too? Let’s explore.
The Benefits of Oatmeal for Dogs
All of the things that make oatmeal good for humans also makes it good for dogs—with a few caveats.
A reason why oatmeal is a healthy option for dogs is that it’s relatively bland on its own. Oats cooked just with water—and with no added milk, sugar, or other rich oatmeal toppings—offer your pup a wholesome snack or meal topper that provides all of the vitamins and nutrients mentioned above without any additives that you have to worry about.
Because of oatmeal’s high fiber content, it’s often recommended as a way to sneak a bit of extra fiber into the diet of dogs who suffer from gastrointestinal or bowel issues, though if your dog has a sensitive stomach, it’s best to check with your vet before adding any “human” foods into their bowl. It can also be a good way to sneak more water into your dog’s diet, particularly if you add extra warm (not hot) water to the oatmeal after it has cooked.
How to Feed Your Dog Oatmeal
The secret to making sure that oatmeal is a healthy snack for your dog is to ensure you choose the right variety and that you cook it correctly. Follow these guidelines to avoid any issues:
- Cook it. Cook oatmeal before giving it to your dog instead of feeding them raw oats.
- Whole grains are better. Only serve your dog oatmeal made from whole grain oats. Processed grains offer less health benefits, and may upset your dog’s stomach.
- Stick to the basics. If serving pre-packaged oatmeal, check the ingredient list first. Some pre-packaged oatmeal varieties contain added sugar or other flavorings.
- Keep portions small. Plain, cooked oatmeal contains about 150 calories per cup. While that might not sound like a lot, keep in mind that dogs require significantly fewer calories than we do (a 25-pound dog, for example, should only be eating about 550 calories a day to maintain their weight). So when it comes to feeding your dog oatmeal, a spoonful or two is usually more than enough.
- Don’t use it as a meal replacement. Even though oatmeal has plenty of good benefits for dogs, it’s still missing many of the nutrients necessary for a well-rounded canine diet. Use it as a snack or a meal topper—instead of as a meal itself—to ensure your pup still gets what he or she needs.
What You Can Add to Your Dog’s Oatmeal
While things like brown sugar and maple syrup are out, there are still plenty of extras you can put in your dog’s oatmeal to make it more exciting.
- Peanut Butter: Most dogs already love peanut butter, and a teaspoon or so of an all-natural, no sugar added variety makes a great addition to your dog’s oatmeal.
- Fruit: Cut up some dog-friendly fruit into bite-sized pieces and stir it in. Some good options include bananas, strawberries, blueberries, or apples.
- Pureed Pumpkin: Make oatmeal even more fiber-ful by stirring in some pureed pumpkin. Just be sure it’s pure pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a natural anti-inflammatory and also a great way to add more flavor without adding calories (plus dogs love it!).
- Plain Yogurt: Plain Greek or standard yogurt is a delicious addition to oatmeal and will bring in a further boost of calcium and vitamins. Avoid flavored yogurts, though, which often have a very high sugar content.
- Sunflower Seeds: Unsalted sunflower seeds are a powerful antioxidant and great for dogs. Sprinkle a few kernels on top of your dog’s oatmeal, but don’t let them get any of the black shell.